Having a bad head cold is never all that much fun. I even had to skip attending Living Waters this morning, which really stinks. To make matters worse, I was too sick to have a bonfire at my townhouse...and it was going to be HUGE!
I've had the chance to re-read some stuff in Rob Bell's "Love Wins" book, and to do some research. I've come to the conclusion that in chapter 4, titled "Does God get what God Wants?," that he over-reached himself. (This is the most controversial chapter...the one that got all the people who hadn't read the book so worked up.)
In this section, Bell really hopes that everyone will be given a second chance after death to choose or reject God. No, he is NOT a Universalist, because he says that many will still choose to reject God. But the chapter does come off as more of a bit of wishful thinking on Bell's part then solid scholarship. In fact, Bell plays pretty loose with the biblical texts on this one. Also, in trying to use Martin Luther and early church fathers to back him up on this possibility, he ended up taking them out of context.
My conclusion? Bell is wrong on this one. But I do agree with him that there is nothing wrong in wishing for a second chance.
Now, if Bell is wrong on this issue, many would say that he is a heretic and that I should have nothing to do with him. He is dangerous to the faith in general, and mine in particular. Therefore, I should not allow anything he says to influence me anymore. Perhaps the people who say this are correct, so what should I do?
I decided that since I was so sick, I should collect all of my Bell DVDs & books and destroy them. Better safe than sorry, after all. So I did.
Unfortunately, I have a bit of a problem. If Bell has been a bad influence on me, then others had to have been a bad influence on him. I thought that I should find out where Bell's heretical ideas may have originally begun. So I began my search in his acknowledgments area & reading lists. The following is what I discovered:
I should state for the record that I have 5 books by Brain McLaren which I have yet to read. Obviously, they will be the first ones on the fire.
C.S. Lewis and his book "The Great Divorce" were an obvious influence on Bell's thoughts on a second chance. So Lewis is out. I have at least 6 books by him to add to the fire. (I'm not gonna get "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" at Blockbuster either.)
N.T. Wright is mentioned, too. (Evil Anglican!) So anything associated with him has to go. Which means...
All my Lee Strobel videos of the "Case for Christ, for Faith, for a Creator" have to burn. (Bell references them in his video "Everything is Spiritual.") Strobel also uses Greg Boyd, the dirty "Open Theist" in his books for Christian Apologetics, so he REALLY needs to go.
Also, in Bell's video "The gods aren't Angry," he quotes Brennan Manning from the "Ragamuffin Gospel." So all of my Manning books have to go...including anything by Dr. Larry Crabb, because he wrote the forward to Manning's "The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus," which is OK cause I don't think I have anything by Crabb. (Not to worry too much. Manning is semi-catholic, and none of them can be real "Christians," ya know)
Ooo, yeah...Ragamuffin Gospel...No more Rich Mullins for me. He's on the cover, and even named his band after the book. Don't you ever let me catch you singing "Our God is an Awesome God," you little apostate.
Speaking of music, Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant both really liked the book "The Shack." A certain famous pastor in Seattle says that I can't read that book because a work of fiction will distort my view of the Trinity. By extension, any music by Smith or Grant probably will too. So they're out. (Never was a big fan anyway.)
Also, now that I think about it, Donald Miller defended Bell a tiny bit by saying that "No one goes to Hell because they don't believe in it." So that means that I gotta burn all of his stuff too. Which sucks cause I loved "Blue Like Jazz," and was hoping to see the movie.
I would suppose that since Donald Miller attends Imago Dei Community out in Portland, that I have to burn Rick McKinley's "This Beautiful Mess," since he's the main pastor there. (Gotta scrap a lot of podcasts, too.)
What I find to be the most ironic of all of this heretical housecleaning, is that the one guy who's books I would most certainly be allowed to read without losing my faith, I can't. A lot of people have told me to read "Desiring God" by John Piper. I've been meaning to pick up a copy. Piper makes it clear that Bell is beyond the pale of any proper Christianity, and that I should not listen to him. I probably should have listened to Piper first. Unfortunately, I did listen to Bell and he makes it clear to every reader that we should read "Everything that John Piper has ever written." But if I want to stay faithful to to Piper's teachings, then I can't read him.
As you can see, it's quite a quandary I'm in here. But the bonfire sure would have been a good one. Unfortunately, I was too sick to have one. Maybe later this week.
I guess that I just wish that people would let me love Jesus like a little child. I had thought that that was enough since Jesus said so. Unfortunately, Jesus was wrong about that. His burden is heavy and his yoke is harder than I thought.